A religion-based autocracy has taken over most of the United States, renaming the country Gilead. In this country women are second-class citizens. Anyone trying to escape is punished. One such person is June, who is captured while trying to escape with her husband and child and is sentenced to be a handmaid, bearing children for childless government officials. As a handmaid, June is renamed Offred. This is her story. Written by
Did You Know?
In the original novel by Margaret Atwood
, the main character is known only by her patronymic, Offred, or "of Fred," since she "belongs" to a Commander named Fred). Her real name is never revealed, though many readers interpret her name to be June, based on various subtle hints in the text. In a 2017 article for the New York Times Book Review, author Margaret Atwood
says about the interpretation, "that was not my original thought, but it fits, so readers are welcome to it if they wish." In the 1990 film adaptation of the novel, The Handmaid's Tale
(1990), the filmmakers chose Kate as her pre-Gileadean name, and state it clearly. See more